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Idaho Social Work License Requirements

Social workers in Idaho earn top salaries. Healthcare social workers and social workers in other categories (in non-metropolitan areas) earn some of the highest social work salaries in the country– over $65,000 annually.1,2 The state has a growing population of 1.6 million and has a need for more social workers.3 If you are interested in becoming a social worker in Idaho, you’ll need to understand the state licensure requirements and paths. The Idaho Board of Social Work Examiners regulates social work licenses in the state. Continue reading to learn about licenses available for social workers in Idaho.

How to Become a Social Worker in Idaho

Educational Paths

Social workers interested in working in Idaho will be required to have a social work license in order to practice. The minimum degree required is a bachelor’s in social work degree (BSW); a master’s in social work (MSW) is required for clinical and private practice in Idaho. Read below for specific details on each degree and how it may impact your social work career.

Bachelor of Social Work (BSW)

The Idaho Board of Social Work Examiners requires that all licensees possess at minimum a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) from a school accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). BSW programs usually take four years to complete and expose students to the social work field and prepare them for professional work through classroom and field experience. Courses typically include human behavior, social work policy, professional ethics, and practice methods. After receiving this degree, you become eligible to apply to become a licensed social worker (LSW) in Idaho.

Master of Social Work (MSW)

If you wish to practice at the master’s level or clinical social work, you will need a master’s degree in social work (MSW) from a CSWE-accredited program. All CSWE-accredited MSW programs will share the same core classes, but schools will offer different electives and research topics based on the specialty of the program. MSW courses usually include social work policy and social welfare, social work research, crisis management and intervention, and practice with different audiences such as individuals, families, and communities. All MSW programs will have a fieldwork component that gives students real-world experience. If you previously completed your BSW from a CSWE-accredited school, you may be eligible for “advanced standing” in the MSW program, decreasing the duration of the graduate-level program from two years to one year. After receiving an MSW, you will be eligible to become licensed as a licensed certified social worker (LMSW) in Idaho.

Steps for becoming a Licensed Social Worker in Idaho

The Idaho Board of Social Workers administers three social work licenses:

  • Licensed social worker (LSW)
  • Licensed master social worker (LMSW)
  • Licensed clinical social worker (LCSW)

All three licenses administered by the Board require a $70 application fee (as of January 2016), a completed application, examination and other varying requirements. It is unlawful to practice social work in Idaho without a license.

Licensed Social Worker (LSW)

The Idaho Board of Examiners requires all social workers who practice in the state and use the title “social worker” to hold a license. If you hold a BSW from a CSWE-accredited school, you will be eligible to become a licensed social worker (LSW) in Idaho. LSWs will practice general social work which includes assessment, planning, and intervention, case management, making referrals, supportive counseling, and advocacy. Once you have met the education requirement, you must:

1. Complete the application.

LSW applicants must submit the social work application to the Idaho Board of Examiners. Along with the application, candidates must submit:

  • A copy of their driver’s license or birth certificate
  • An official, sealed transcript
  • Contact information for three professional references and one completed professional reference form (must be notarized)
  • $70 application fee*

*As of 2016

Candidates may apply for an LSW license during their final year of graduation. If you have not yet graduated, you must submit the addendum certifying your graduation date and executed by the registrar of your college or university.

You must have a social work licensure application on file and approved by the Idaho Board of Examiners in order to take the Association of Social Workers Board (ASWB) exam. After your application is approved, the Board will mail you an approval letter and instructions on how to register for the exam.

2. Take and pass the ASWB bachelors exam.

Upon receiving your approval letter from the Idaho Board of Examiners, you must register for and take the ASWB bachelor’s level exam. The bachelor’s level exam costs $230 and is a 170-question multiple-choice exam. To pass, you must answer between 96 and 105 questions correctly. If you fail, you may retake the exam up to three times within a 12-month period, waiting at least 90 days in between each attempt.

3. Receive your LSW.

Once you pass the exam and the Idaho Board receives your official exam scores, the Board will issue you an LSW license. LSWs may engage in independent practice after obtaining 3,000 hours of supervised social work experience within two to five years. The LSW must be supervised by an LSW, LMSW, or LCSW.

Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)

If you wish to possess a master social work license, you must have an MSW or doctorate from a CSWE-accredited school. Master’s level social workers typically have more responsibility than LSWs. Licensed master social workers (LMSWs) practice specialized and advanced social work which includes assessment, treatment planning, case management, supportive counseling, advocacy, and research. If you possess a master’s degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited school, you can apply to become an LMSW. You must:

1. Complete the application.

LMSW candidates may apply for licensure in Idaho during their final semester. Applicants must complete the application for licensure. In addition to the $70 application fee*, LMSW candidates must submit:

  • A copy of their driver’s license or birth certificate
  • An official, sealed transcript
  • Contact information for three professional references and one completed professional reference form (must be notarized)**
  • Education Addendum confirming graduation date

*As of 2016
** Form included in application packet.

Once your application has been approved, the Idaho Board of Examiners will provide a letter with instructions to register for the ASWB examination. Upon receiving this letter, you may move on to the next step in this process.

2. Take and pass the ASWB masters exam.

The a href=”https://www.aswb.org/” target=”_blank”>master’s level ASWB exam is required to become an LMSW. The master’s level exam is a 170-question multiple choice exam that requires between 96 and 105 correctly answered questions to pass. As of January 2016, the fee for the master’s level ASWB exam was $230.

3. Receive your LMSW license.

There is no experience requirement for LMSWs. After completing the steps above, you will become a licensed master social worker (LMSW) and may practice social work. LMSWs may become independent practitioners after gaining 3,000 hours of supervised social work experience in two to five years. Supervisors must have an LMSW or LCSW. Unlike LSWs, LMSWs are allowed to practice psychotherapy social work under supervision.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Clinical social workers practice social work by applying specialized clinical skills in assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of behavioral, emotional, and mental disorders. To become a licensed clinical social worker, you must possess an MSW from a CSWE-accredited school and an LMSW.

1. Gain the required experience.

The Idaho Social Work Board of Social Work Examiners requires LCSW candidates to obtain 3,000 hours of social work experience after becoming an LMSW. All experience must be gained in no less than two and no more than five years. Of the 3,000 hours required, 1,750 hours must be direct client contact in clinical social work and 1,250 hours must involve assessment, diagnosis, and other clinical social work. Half of the experience must be supervised by an LCSW who has been registered as a supervisor by the Idaho Board of Examiners. The remaining 50% of supervision can be provided by either a registered LCSW, a clinical psychologist, an individual licensed to practice medicine (and who practices psychiatry), and a licensed clinical professional counselor and marriage and family therapist.

LCSW candidates must submit a supervision plan and application to the Idaho Board of Social Work Examiners. Experience attained will not count unless the supervision plan has been accepted and approved by the Board. There is no associated fee with the supervision plan and application. Supervisors must submit a supervision report after each six-month period of supervision; the report must be submitted to the Board within 30 days. At the conclusion of your supervision, your supervisor must submit the final supervision report. All supervision reports will be kept in the applicant’s file.

2. Complete the application.

LMSW candidates who are upgrading their license to an LCSW must complete the one-page clinical social work application to become licensed. The fee to become an LCSW is $70 as of January 2016; no additional documents are required to be submitting with this application.

If you are applying for licensure by endorsement, you will have to complete the full social work application. For more information on licensure by endorsement, see the reciprocity section below.

Once your application has been approved, the Idaho Board of Examiners will provide and letter with instructions to register for the ASWB examination.

3. Take and pass the ASWB clinical exam.

To become licensed, you will need to register for and take the ASWB clinical-level exam. The $260 exam (as of tests the candidate’s knowledge of social work and clinical practice. The 170-question multiple-choice exam requires between 96 and 105 correct answers to pass. You may retake the exam a maximum of three times within a 12-month period.

4. Receive your LCSW license.

Once you have completed the steps listed above, you will become a licensed clinical social worker in Idaho. LCSWs can practice clinical and nonclinical social work independently and may engage in private practice. Unlike independent practice, the private practice of social work entitles the licensed social worker to be responsible for the contractual conditions of payments between clients, agencies, or institutions.

Social Work License Reciprocity in Idaho

Idaho does not have formal reciprocity with any other state, but the Board of Examiners offers licensure by endorsement for social workers who were licensed in other states. To apply for licensure by endorsement, social workers must:

  • Have an active social work license from another jurisdiction
  • Not have been disciplined within the past five years nor had his or her license revoked, suspended, or restricted
  • Have no felony convictions

Applicants must submit the $90 application fee, a copy of their driver’s license or birth certificate, an official transcript(s), contact information for three professional references and one completed reference form (included in packet), and official verification of licensure (including ASWB examination scores).

Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information

Social workers in Idaho must renew their license annually and must have 20 hours of continuing education (CE) with one hour in professional ethics each year. The fee to renew an LSW and LMSW license (including independent practice) is $80. The fee to renew an LCSW license is $90. All fees are current as of January 2016. The Idaho Board of Social Work Examiners will mail the renewal application to the licensed social workers’ address.

Idaho Social Worker Jobs and Salary Information

Nearly 3,000 social workers are employed in Idaho; 50% have social worker jobs in the sub-category of child, family, and school social workers.4 Social workers in Idaho earn an average salary of $51,167 annually.4 Social workers in other categories earn the fourth-highest salary in the country ($68,470) and healthcare social workers in non-metropolitan areas earn the second highest salary in the country ($69.260).1,2, Jobs for social workers in Idaho are projected to increase by 17.7% by the year 2022, amounting to about 100 additional positions per year.5 Based on the projections for Idaho and the high annual salaries, Idaho would be a great place to start a social work career.

TypeNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Child, Family, and School Social Workers1,450$41,960
Healthcare Social Workers700$51,320
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers610$42,920
Social Workers, All Other100$468,470

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2014.2

Social Work Associations in Idaho

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Can I begin practicing independently once I become as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker?

Answer: Yes, once you meet the requirements for an LCSW and gain approval by the Board, you may begin practicing social work independently.

Question: For the 3,000 hours of work experience required, can I count experience I gained years ago?

Answer: Yes. As long as your social work experience was acquired after receiving your LMSW, you submitted a supervisor plan and application to the Board, and your experience was acquired in no less than two but no more than five years, your social work experience will count towards licensure.

Question: What kinds of qualifications are required of the person supervising my experience?

Answer: 50% of the 3,000 hours of experience must be supervised by an LCSW who is registered as a supervisor by the Idaho Board of Examiners. The remaining 50% of supervision can be provided by either a registered LCSW, a clinical psychologist, an individual licensed to practice medicine (and who practices psychiatry), and a licensed clinical professional counselor and marriage and family therapist. Your supervision will not count unless you submit a supervision plan and application to the Board prior to starting your work experience.

Question: What kind of degree do I need to practice social work in Idaho?

Answer: Social workers need a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) or a master’s degree in social work (MSW) to practice social work in the state. To practice clinical social work in Idaho, you will need a master’s degree in social work from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.

References:
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Healthcare Social Workers: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211022.htm
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Healthcare Social Workers: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211029.htm
3. US Census Bureau Quick Facts, Idaho: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/ID
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Idaho: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_id.htm
5. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm